The science centre is open at weekends only until October half-term. Science centre tickets include Space Zone and the LEGO® Brick Dinos exhibition. 

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Research at Life

How research at Life is enriching lives


The International Centre for Life is a science village in the heart of Newcastle upon Tyne. Nearly 600 people from 35 countries are based here; researchers, doctors and nurses work alongside people in the fields of education, business and public engagement. They all share a common goal to enrich lives through science.

In 2019, Newcastle University restructured its Faculty of Medical Sciences (FMS). The University's research at Life, previously known as the Institute of Genetic Medicine, is now a part of various research institutes of FMS, with many of the onsite scientists working within the Biosciences Institute and the Translational and Clinical Research Institute.

At Life, more than 30 research groups, with over 200 research staff and postgraduate students, continue to do cutting-edge research. They work closely with the NHS Northern Genetics Service, which houses more than 150 NHS staff, including the Molecular Diagnostic Service for the region, and Clinical Genetics Directorate of The Newcastle Upon Tyne NHS Foundation Trust. In addition, there is an active collaboration with the NHS Newcastle Fertility Centre located onsite.

The following is an account of the medical advances being made by Newcastle University researchers at Life to improve people's lives.


2019/20 research highlights:

  • Newcastle University scientists used powerful single-cell genomics tools housed onsite at Life to show which genes are 'switched on' in every cell in the human eye during embryonic development.
  • Neuromuscular researchers at Life have made significant progress in various clinical trials, which now include a first gene therapy trial for spinal muscular atrophy type 1.
  • Newcastle University researchers at Life are studying the genetic changes which contribute most to osteoarthritis joint damage. In osteoarthritis genetics, one of the biggest challenges has been to determine the functional effect of gene mutations and to distinguish those that are harmful from the benign. Now, working together with experts in Seattle, researchers at Life have developed a high-throughput test to rapidly evaluate the effect of thousands of genetic mutations.
  • Important progress has also been made in studying Joubert syndrome, which is a rare renal disorder often caused by mutations in a single gene. Newcastle University researchers at Life showed that if you put the gene mutation to one side and instead look at the rest of the genome (the genetic background), this holds the key to understanding differences in disease severity.
  • Newcastle University researchers showed that cells in the cornea can be stimulated to grow solely by changing the biomechanical properties of the outer surface of the eye, which could be a highly effective treatment for healing wounds.

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